This is love. Listening. Making space.
A slow Montreal afternoon, lying in a sunbeam with this beautiful young woman, our middle daughter, Ella. Laughing at our put-on glamour shots, talking about ethics, heartbreaks, failures, and dreams. Comparing our weird shaped toes. She’s definitely my child, the middle toe confirms. Speaking romantic French phrases to each other. Listening to an exuberant chickadee outside her window.
But, for me, listening mostly. Allowing her to tell me who she is today. Because, surely, it’s not who she was a week ago.
This is love. Listening. Making space. Letting her share herself as she is today. Watching her stretch into shapes unfamiliar to me.
It can feel threatening, sometimes. To watch as someone we love morphs into the unfamiliar. But, that’s our work to do – to find our peace there, to excavate the admiration and delight even in that strange new place. To hold someone back because of our desire for illusory safety in the familiar is certain eventual death. Either intimacy dies, connection fades, resentments build or, ultimately, the relationship crumbles. A drowning person will claw at the hand holding them down.
Why should we assume that we know the innermost crevices of someone just because we love them? Shouldn’t we all make space for the people we love to grow and evolve? True intimacy lies in the vulnerability of being able to say, “I don’t know. Please tell me”. My children are forever my children, but I have no ownership over them. They are young adults worthy of my respect and awe. I don’t want them to bow under my motherly weight. I want them to reach out to me in anticipation and comfort because I am safe and I am unconditional love.
It is a wonder to have these beautiful humans around me and to be able to call them “family”. I don’t want to miss any of it.